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New Garbage Contract
Posted on 08/09/2018

San Ramon Solid Waste & Recycling

After thirteen years, the San Ramon Solid Waste & Recycling contract will expire next year, and the City will be selecting a vendor to commence service in October of 2019. A Request for Proposals was issued, and four competitive bids from reputable companies were received for staff and the City Council to evaluate.

On January 1, 2020, the start of the billing year for the new contract, rates will increase a minimum of $6 per month for 35-gallon cart single-family customers, and a minimum of $8 per month for 35-gallon cart townhome and condominium customers. The rate increase is due to increased labor costs after thirteen years, a collapse in the recyclables market overseas, and state-mandated new service for business and multi-family customers.

In an effort to provide more information to the community, staff created the following “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Solid Waste & Recycling Contract:

  1. Why did the City go out for a new contract?

    The current contract with Waste Management has been in effect since October 1, 2006. The original seven-year contract was extended in both 2013 and 2016. In order to get competitive pricing for the next Solid Waste & Recycling contract, the City Council directed staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next 10- to 15-year contract. 

  2. What process did the City use to get the best pricing?

    The City selected HF&H Consultants through a competitive bidding process to serve as the industry expert for San Ramon. Staff worked with HF&H to author, distribute, and evaluate contract proposals. The City received a total of four competitive bids for the upcoming contract. Staff and consultants are negotiating with proposers and have been able to reduce the pricing from the initial bids received. 

  3. Who are the remaining contract bidders?

    The City Council will select between the current provider, Waste Management, and Green Solutions of San Ramon an Alameda County Industries company. The City Council will select and finalize a contract in the Fall of 2018. 

  4. Will my garbage service change?

    The City continues to work with the two bidding companies to optimize the service level and pricing for the new contract. As part of this process, the City would like to hear from the community on their priorities for service in a new garbage contract.

    Effective with the new contract all townhome, condominium, multi-family, and commercial customers will receive organics recycling service. “Organics” includes food scraps, yard trimmings, plants, clean wood, and soiled paper products such as paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, paper cups, etc.

    Customers will also receive new solid waste, recyclables, and organics containers. The new containers will be in the State-mandated color scheme of grey = solid waste, blue = recycle, and green = organics. The new containers will also have State-required labels explaining what can and can’t go into each type of container. 

  5. Why is the price increase so much?

    The new Solid Waste & Recycling Collection contract will increase a minimum of $6 per month for 35-gallon cart single-family customers, and a minimum of $8 per month for 35-gallon cart townhome and condominium customers due to three significant factors.

    First, the City’s long-term contract included a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase for annual rates instead of an increase based on actual labor costs. Given that the cost of labor for solid waste and recycling is increasing faster than the CPI increase, each of the bids received by the City included an approximate increase of $3 per month solely due to a correction in labor costs to market rate.

    Second, the mandated recycling of organic material required from the State for all types of homes will require a new level of service for business, townhomes/condominiums and multi-family customers that will significantly increase the price of service for these classes of customers.

    Third, China used to accept 60% of the recyclables in the global market, however, in their attempt to clean up industry and the environment in their own country, they have stopped accepting nearly all recyclables from countries all over the globe. Secondary markets in Southeast Asia can absorb some of the supply, but the dramatic reduction in demand from China has turned recycling from a cost offsetting to a cost incurring industry. It may take years to recover the capacity, but the City is thinking ahead and taking steps to ensure that ratepayers will benefit if and when the markets recover.

  6. What if I don’t want to recycle, do I have to pay for the service?

    The three-cart system that includes solid waste, recyclables and organics is mandated by state law. You cannot opt out of this service.

  7. Are we still going to have Neighborhood Clean-Up Days?

    The current version of the contract includes three neighborhood clean-up days just like you have today. In an effort to reduce the price increase, the City is exploring the option of reducing the total number of neighborhood clean-up days or changing one or more of them to an on-call pickup option.

  8. Why is the increase for townhome, condominium, multi-family and business customers so much?

    The State of California mandated organics recycling service for all customers in California. In the current contract, this level of service is not provided to townhome, condominium, multi-family and business customers. The onset of this service accounts for the additional increase in the Solid Waste & Recycling Contract for these customers.

  9. How did staff know what to include in the current contract?

    As part of the due diligence process to develop a new Solid Waste & Refuse contract staff contracted with FM3 to complete a statistically valid survey of the community. This survey provided the framework for the elements that are included in the proposed contract by both providers. 

    View the results of the surveys here:

  10. In addition, there were new programs required by state law that are included in the agreement.

  11. Is there a street sweeping fee included in this contract?

    Neat and clean was an important outcome for a Solid Waste & Recycling provider to 79% of respondents in the survey conducted in San Ramon. In order to achieve this, the City will need a reliable provider to collect solid waste and recyclables and will need regular street sweeping to control trash, recyclables, and yard trimmings that accumulate in the street. Street sweeping every other week and weekly during the fall will prevent trash build-up and is required to keep the City in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

    For many years the fee for street sweeping was included in the annual stormwater assessment; however, with new requirements and no increase in this fee, the assessment could no longer pay for stormwater. Since the 2014-15 fiscal year, the City has paid for this through the General Fund. However, the City is proposing a funding source at $1 per month per account, to pay for an enhanced level of street sweeping for the life of the contract.

    Currently, public streets in San Ramon are swept twice per month. The new contract would increase the sweeping frequency to four times per month during the Fall (three months) and maintain the frequency of twice per month the rest of the year (nine months). 

    The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has determined that trash is a pervasive problem near and in local creeks, rivers, and the San Francisco Bay. Trash in waterways may impair the beneficial uses of these waters, which includes recreation and wildlife habitat among others. Trash such as plastic bags may harm wildlife through entanglement or ingestion. Trash may also contain hazardous materials such as heavy metals, toxic chemicals, oil and grease products, and other constituents that are harmful to the environment.

    To reduce the amount of trash reaching these waterways, the San Francisco Bay Region Municipal Regional Stormwater Discharge Permit (MRP), which is issued to 76 cities, counties and flood control agencies by the Regional Water Board, requires Permittees to reduce trash discharged from their municipal separate storm sewer systems by demonstrable amounts in specific timeframes. Trash may be reduced through the installation of certain types of trash capture devices or implementation of trash management actions such as increased street sweeping, on-land cleanups, or improved bin management.  San Ramon satisfies all of the trash reduction requirements in the MRP through street sweeping and on-land cleanups, avoiding the need to spend millions of dollars to install trash capture devices.  

    For more information about trash requirements under the MRP, please refer to: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sanfranciscobay/water_issues/programs/stormwater/MRP/Prov_C10.html